A Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to the 95th Academy Award

Today is the day: movies’ biggest night of the year. It feels like a decade ago that Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock to overshadow Coda on its big night. But a little less than a year later, we’re back to do it all again—hopefully with less slapping. And hopefully with a more deserving winner.

And here you are again, with me, a man far too obsessed with the movies and the Oscars for his own sake. But my obsession can be your benefit. Perhaps you’ve got an Oscar party tonight with an awards pool or you’re looking to impress your friends today as you stun them with your unprecedented knowledge of film. Maybe you’re just as infatuated by the movies as I am. Or perhaps you’re a degenerate gambler looking to feel something on this brisk March Sunday night—me too buddy, me too.

What I’ve prepared for you, whatever your reason for being here may be, is a guide to tonight’s winners and losers and everything in between and beyond. So that you don’t have to, I have watched (almost) every single item nominated and most of what wasn’t and have fished through years of the Academy awards to know, without a shadow of a doubt, who will win tonight*. And I have so generously passed that information on to you for free.

*This is a lie.

The Format

For each award I will provide you with four things to best make your decision on the night:

  1. Ranking:
    An objective, undisputable, impartial, nonbiased, unequivocal rankings of the nominees*.
    *my rankings
  2. Likelihood of winning:
    Based on narrative, Oscar history, and good ol’ fashioned gut feeling a ranking all the nominees in order of their chance to take home the award.
  3. Best Bet:
    Based on odds provided by a world-famous sportsbook that shall remain unnamed because they did not sponsor this content, based on likelihood of winning who’s your best bet.
  4. Long Shot:
    To really wow your friends or rake in the dough; if the chips fall your way that is.

Minor Awards

There are no small awards at the Oscars, every statue given out should be cherished for eternity.  But some awards are smaller than others.  These are the Chris Pauls of Academy Awards, small for an NBA player, big for a human.

Original Song

The continued existence of the best original song category is all the proof one needs that the Academy desperately needs to take some risks and switch up their awards ceremony.  The fact that we are still giving out a trophy for original song and not best stunt or best first time feature director or even best performance by a child (Frankie Corio would have sprinted away with the award this year) is baffling to me.

  1. “Naatu Naatu” from RRR by M. M. Keeravani and Chandrabose
  2. “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick by Lady Gaga and BloodPop
  3. “This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once by Ryan Lott, David Byrne, and Mitski
  4. “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler, and Ludwig Göransson
  5. “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman by Diane Warren

What an absolutely miserable collection of pop ballads and “Naatu Naatu.”

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. “Naatu Naatu” (-500)
  2. “Lift Me Up” (+470)
  3. “Hold My Hand” (+900)
  4. “This Is a Life” (+3500)
  5. “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman by Diane Warren (+3500)
Best Bet:

“Naatu Naatu” from RRR by M. M. Keeravani and Chandrabose (-500)

“Naatu Naatu” is much like the film it comes from, loud, exciting, nothing special, but at least it’s something different. And it manages to be far and away the best song of this awful, awful bunch coupled with the fact that it has won nearly every other original song award leading up to the Oscars. It makes it among the few nearly sure things on the night.

Long Shot:

“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick by Lady Gaga and BloodPop (+900)

There are going to be a number of voters who get to the end of their ballot and realize that Top Gun: Maverick was their favorite movie of last year but they haven’t voted for it for any awards. But there is also the chance that 2023 simply is the year of Rihanna and there isn’t anything we can do about it.

Documentary Short

I was pretty determined this year to watch every nominee before the night of the 95th Academy Awards, but the documentary shorts are usually the most difficult to catch and this year proved no different and I was unfortunately unable—by the evening of March 11th—to see all five documentary shorts. For integrity’s sake we’ll skip over the rankings for this particular award.

The shorts, all three categories, are the hardest to predict. A lot of that is because there just isn’t nearly as much discourse about them in the lead up to the awards. But also, it is impossible to know for sure how most Academy voters are watching the shorts.

Academy voters are notorious for not actually watching all the movies and performances they’re voting on, which has borne itself out in the results throughout the years. But do the voters that do put in the time to watch all the nominated shorts watch them like most viewers will in succession as you would see at one of the theatrical screenings? In which case you’d assume quality would be a much better measure of odds to win in the shorts categories than maybe any other category on the night. Or do they pick and choose the ones of interest in their provided screen material?

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. The Elephant Whisperers by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga (-160)
  2. Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev (+370)
  3. Stranger at the Gate by Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones (+270)
  4. The Martha Mitchell Effect by Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison (+1800)
  5. How Do You Measure a Year? by Jay Rosenblatt (+2300)

It’s no surprise The Elephant Whisperers is the prohibitive favorite in the category, Netflix’s documentary about a sound Indian couple looking after a pair of orphaned elephants was a relative hit during the 2022 awards season.  It has a similar ethos to 93rd Academy Awards Best Documentary Feature winner, My Octopus Teacher, which itself was a prohibitive favorite coming into the night.

Best Bet:

The Elephant Whisperers by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga (-160)

At -160 you’re not likely to make a killing better on The Elephant Whisperers to win but it’s hard to see an upset in this category. 

Long Shot:

Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev (+370)

Of the ones I was able to see Haulout was by far my favorite, Evgenia and Maxim Arbugaev have the best shot and edited documentary of the group and the unflinching look at the slow demise of our planet is likely to stick with voters for a long time to come.

Animated Short

I think we have ourselves a pretty disappointing batch of animated shorts this year.  It is perhaps unreasonable to assume that we will get a Paperman or 2004’s Ryan or even last year’s The Windshield Wiper.  But the shocking thing about this collection of shorts was how visually dull they were.  Often narratively or thematically lacking the Oscar animated shorts, because of their length tend to lend themselves to stunning visuals and daring artistic choices.

  1. Ice Merchants
  2. An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It
  3. My Year of Dicks
  4. The Flying Sailor
  5. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

In this collection of nominations, I would say, we have one great short, two decent, one weird, and one awful one.  The question of how most people have watched these comes into account again, I saw these in the theater and if you sit down in a dark room with your phone off and watch all five of these short films in order, I’m not sure how you walk out thinking anything besides Ice Merchants is the best of the bunch.  In contention for my favorite shot of the entire year is at the end when we pan up the pile of hats and you see a story of a life lived presented in such a beautiful way.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (-195)
  2. My Year of Dicks (+250)
  3. Ice Merchants (+650)
  4. An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It (+2300)
  5. The Flying Sailor (+2900)
Best Bet:

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (-195)

I knew at the time this was likely to be the case, once I saw the Apple logo pop up before the film and heard the voices or Idris Elba, Tom Hollander, and Gabriel Byrne; in fact, I feared this is where we’d end up. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a cloying sycophantic parable with so little to say it has to give a horse wings to wake the audience up at the end. The fact that Apple’s money will buy them yet another undeserved Oscar is irritating for sure, but no more irritating that the lack of an oxford comma in the film’s fucking title.

Long Shot:

My Year of Dicks (+250)

My Year of Dicks is the flashiest of the bunch and in the screenings was presented last with a warning to allow younger audience members to leave if they wish.  Thus, it will be many people’s lasting memory while exiting the theater.  It’s sure to resonate with many viewers despite it having very little to offer in the well-trodden history of virginity tales.

Live Action Short

It becomes harder each year with the continued prestidigitation of television to find ways to stand out in short form filmmaking. Short form storytelling in any medium is challenging because it is difficult to find a story that lends itself well to the format. Even in this year of batch of nominees, many of which I enjoyed, I found myself wishing that had just been feature length films. They often left more on the table to be explored. And that is often the fate of many successful short films to be adapted into feature length films, Whiplash being the most famous recent example. But what separates a great short from an all-time short is its ability to capitalize on the format rather than be hindered by it.

  1. The Red Suitcase
  2. An Irish Goodbye
  3. Le pupille
  4. Night Ride
  5. Ivalu

Only about a hair’s breadth separates The Red Suitcase and An Irish Goodbye at the top of the rankings but after that there is a wide gap between the rest of the field.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Le pupille (+180)
  2. An Irish Goodbye (+120)
  3. The Red Suitcase (+600)
  4. Ivalu (+2200)
  5. Night Ride (+1600)
Best Bet:

Le pupille (+180)

I have far less of a read on this category than the rest of the shorts this year. Normally the amalgam of cute kids, quirky comedy, and Disney would make me pretty confident Le pupille would take home the big prize, but it is too bit too weird by a half to make me confident of that pick. Vegas seems to believe it’s An Irish Goodbye’s night, which wouldn’t shock me at all. Of the two stand outs from the category, it is far less bleak, despite being about two brothers dealing with the death of their mother.

Long Shot:

The Red Suitcase (+600)

Nothing in this category is giving you great odds from Vegas but considering it is the best of the group, if only slightly, and Nawelle Ewad’s gripping lead performance is the strongest we see in any of the films, there is a chance this comes away on the night with a shock win.

Animated Feature Film

Faithful listeners of the podcast will know I’m not an animated film guy, they just don’t do much for me and I don’t think these five nominations are likely to make any converts out of the anti-cartoon bunch.

  1. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
  2. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
  3. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
  4. Turning Red
  5. The Sea Beast

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio are two good movies, far better than they have any right to be.  Especially Marcel the Shell, which is a film based on a series of YouTube videos from the 2010s. It would’ve been a small miracle if this film was even half as good as it turned out and it is a beautifully heartwarming exploration of belonging and self and proof that even the strangest characters can contain multitudes.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (-2000)
  2. Turning Red (+2300)
  3. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (+1300)
  4. The Sea Beast (+3400)
  5. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (+1800)
Best Bet:

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (-2000)

This is del Toro’s award to lose; for two very important reasons.  One because this is a great movie, arguably the best of the nominees.  And secondly, and more importantly, the Academy voters do not watch these movies.  They just don’t.  Given that Guillermo del Toro, rightfully so, is a legend, more than enough people will rank this movie first to get del Toro his second Oscar in five years.

Long Shot:

Turning Red (+2300)

This is not a good movie.  But it being a good movie or not is not important.  Disney/Pixar dominates this award.  It is very rare that Disney and/or Pixar will have a movie in this category and not take home the prize.  Just last year Encanto beat out the far superior Flee and two years previous Toy Story 4 toppled I Lost my Body.  In the eleven years since the Oscars switched to 5 nominations Disney/Pixar has been nominated ten times and won nine — despite rarely being the best movie of the five nominees.

The only time they were both nominated and Disney/Pixar lost was five years ago when Incredibles 2 lost to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  Now, Incredibles 2 is better than Turning Red but also Into the Spider-Verse has a not unrealistic claim to the greatest animated film of the millennia.  It takes something extraordinary for this to happen and I think people’s ambivalence toward Turning Red is more likely to be a factor in bucking the trend than people’s love of Pinocchio but don’t be shocked if Bob Iger’s triumphant return is capped with an unlikely Oscar win.

Documentary Feature Film

I am not a documentary guy; it would be disingenuous for me to sit here in front of you and my laptop and pretend otherwise.  I have far less insight into what is an objectively good documentary than a traditional film, mostly as a result of a lack of experience.  I love Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Fog of War and that’s about it.  So, I find myself after watching this year’s slate of nominees feeling more respect than adoration.

  1. All That Breathes
  2. Fire of Love
  3. Navalny
  4. A House Made of Splinters
  5. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

While All the Beauty and the Bloodshed and A House of Splinters are beautiful and unflinching portraits of their respective subjects, there is a gap in quality between Navalny, Fire of Love, and All That Breaths and the rest.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Navalny (-250)
  2. Fire of Love (+370)
  3. All That Breathes (+2700)
  4. A House Made of Splinters (+650)
  5. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (+3400)
Best Bet:

Navalny (-250)

Navalny is the most decorated of the nominees coming into tonight.  Navalny, Fire of Love, and All That Breaths traded off the many of the critics and guild awards throughout the season but Navalny took home the BAFTA for Best Documentary, which has been the most predictive award for the Oscars in this category; in the last ten years, six of the nine eligible winners have gone on to win the Oscar that same year.

Long Shot:

All That Breathes (+2700)

Without the might of Disney or Warner behind it All That Breaths will have a tough time pulling out the award.  But other than Navalny, itis the winner of the most major awards in the season leading up to the Academy Awards including the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Golden Eye award.  The caveat being it has performed far better with international voters, taking none of the major American film and guild awards, losing out to Fire of Love or Navalny each time.

Minor Technical Awards

Now we get to the fun stuff.  I love all technical awards equally—okay that’s not true but it sounds like a nice thing to say after calling these awards “minor”—but the distinction between the minor and major technical categories is which would you put in big text on your movie poster.  “Best Make Up and Hairstyling” is not likely to make the graphic designer’s final cut.

Original Score

If any of you have ever come across the videos of famous horror movie scenes with the music removed or found yourself crying at an anti-puppy mills PSA, you’ll be aware of the transformative power of score.  And while often unsung, there are few things in a movie more important than its music.

Except for original song, I genuinely can’t believe that’s still an award.

  1. Babylon – Justin Hurwitz
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front – Volker Bertelmann
  3. The Banshees of Inisherin – Carter Burwell
  4. The Fabelmans – John Williams
  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Son Lux

I’m biased, I will readily admit that I’m an unapologetic Damien Chazelle fan, and if you’ve been listening to the podcast you’ll be well aware with my continued journey with his most recent feature, Babylon.  As the months go by from it continues to occupy more and more of my head, annexing entire swaths of real estate like a turn of the century robber baron.  But one thing that is undeniable about the film and one thing that has been undeniable about Chazelle’s films since Whiplash catapulted him onto the scene is that his music partner Justin Hurwitz is perhaps his most important collaborator.  Hurwitz is a musical genius, that has been clear for going on nearly a decade, and his genius is possibly only rivaled by he and Chazelle’s—perhaps unhealthy—obsession with jazz.

While I love the haunting monotonous score of All Quiet on the Western Front that returns throughout the film forcing a feeling of awful certainty on the audience.  And Banshees’ haunting lilting score is juxtaposed beautifully against the scenic setting.  But there really can only be one winner here.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Babylon (-150)
  2. The Fabelmans (+1000)
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front (+145)
  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (+2900)
  5. The Banshees of Inisherin (+2300)
Best Bet:

Babylon (-150)

John Williams’ name might carry The Fablemans to an unlikely victory, or the cult of Everything Everywhere All At Once might surprise on the night but there really feels like no other logical winner besides Babylon in this category.

Long Shot:

The Fabelmans (+1000)

John Williams and Steven Spielberg are one of the most legendary duos in film history.  And have been nominated countless times together, but it has been 30 years now since Williams took home the Best Original Score award and that was for another Spielberg film, Schindler’s List.  It doesn’t feel like their year to do it but with such big names on the ballot and with The Fabelmans unlikely to find a lot of joy in many other categories this could be a good pick for an upset on the night.

Visual Effects

The Best Visual Effects award, one of the strangest of the night, because it really feels like the Academy just doesn’t give a shit about this award.  The category is too broad, and if the Academy ever gets off their ass and restructures these awards one of the big things they need to do is split this into at least two awards, practical and special effects.  Because 1917—an incredible film—beating out Avengers: Endgame, The Irishman, The Lion King, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for a visual effects award just doesn’t make much sense.

  1. Avatar: The Way of Water
  2. The Batman
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Top Gun: Maverick
  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The Batman and All Quiet on the Western Front will be lost to history in this category which is a shame because I think they were two of the best-looking films of last year.  All Quiet in particular is so reliant on this uninterrupted visceral experience that sometimes it can go unnoticed how seamless the effects in the film are but it is so key to its success because for even a second if the façade slips the magic is broken.  One of the great shames of film in the last year is how few people saw this movie on the big screen.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Avatar: The Way of Water (-2000)
  2. Top Gun: Maverick (+1400)
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front (+2100)
  4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (+1600)
  5. The Batman (+4200)
Best Bet:

Avatar: The Way of Water (-2000)

All that being said, I’ve got good or maybe bad news for you depending on your feelings on free money.  I would say there are only two 100% guaranteed sure things tonight.  Avatar: The Way of Water winning best visual effect film is probably the surest thing we’ve had at the Oscars in 14 years since the groundbreaking first film won this same award.

Long Shot:

The Batman (+4200)

I just wouldn’t bother, you’d get better use burning your money, but if you’re going to go big you should go really big.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Makeup and hair in film is tough because for most people it will likely go unnoticed, until its bad, and then it’s the only thing you can see.  Which is why the flashiest makeup and hair usually ends up garnering the praise, period pieces and drastic transformations like Christian Bale in Vice run this category for the most part.

  1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  2. The Whale
  3. Elvis
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front
  5. The Batman

This is probably our closest technical category on the night as far as quality is concerned, all five films are perfectly styled and all the makeup and hair are key narrative elements of each film.  I have The Batman last by the smallest of margins but Colin Farrell as The Penguin is one of the most complete and unrecognizable transformations of the year.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. The Whale (+175)
  2. Elvis (-175)
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front (+4000)
  4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (+3300)
  5. The Batman (+3000)
Best Bet:

The Whale (+175)

I’m still holding out hope that Elvis, despite its unconscionable eight nominations, will walk away from the night with no wins; Vegas seems to disagree with me on that account.  The history of this award suggests that when there is a flashy transformative leading role like Brendan Fraser’s in The Whale that usually ends up winning.  Darkest Hour and Vice are the most recent examples of this phenomenon; I would argue there has never been a result like Elvis over The Whale in the history of this award.

Long Shot:

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (+3300)

This really is a two-horse race, it’s going to be The Whale or Elvis when it’s all said and done.  But the make-up and hair in Black Panther is so perfect it’s worth a flyer, and it did take home the Best Contemporary Hair Styling award at the 2023 Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards—ignore the fact that that award is the least predictive of the major awards at the guild’s ceremony for the eventual Oscar winner.

Costume Design

Costume is similar to makeup and hair in that you most notice it when it’s bad.  You’ve certainly watched your fair share of bad sci-fi with cheap costumes that look like they came out of the bargain bin at a Spirit Halloween.  But when it’s done well great costume becomes a part of the films lasting aesthetic, to this day my favorite costumes design in a film is Milena Canonero’s iconic work on The Grand Budapest Hotel.  The iconic purple uniforms of the front desk staff in front of the red mailbox wall is a perfect lasting image from the film.

  1. Babylon
  2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  3. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
  4. Elvis
  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

The anti-Elvis campaign continues.  As far as period costuming goes, Catherine Martin does little for me.  She won ten years ago for The Great Gatsby, and I was unimpressed at the time. As far as period costuming goes I would still take Mary Zophres’s work on Babylon and Jenny Beavan in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

Often times it will come down to a single exemplary piece in the film.  I remain convinced that the burgundy gown won Ana Karenina the 2012 costume design award even though I’m sure we all agree Colleen Atwood should have won for Snow White and the Huntsman.  Austin Butler in the pink Elvis suit will be a lasting image from that film no doubt but I would argue Margot Robbie and Alba Baptista’s red dresses in Babylon and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris respectively are far better looks anyway.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Elvis (-220)
  2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (+270)
  3. Babylon (+2800)
  4. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (+3500)
  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (+600)
Best Bet:

Elvis (-220)

Yeah I’m aware Elvis will likely win at least one award on the night.  If it’s got to win one, I suppose let it be this one.

Long Shot:

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (+3500)

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is not a particularly good movie, but what it is, is a movie about beautiful dresses.  It feels sacrilegious to compare it to Phantom Thread, one of the best films of the last ten years, but as far as a costume department’s ability to flex their muscles, it doesn’t get better than a movie with a dress showing in it; and Phantom Thread did take home this award in 2017.

Production Design

One’s ability to create expansive enveloping worlds for a film is one of the impressive parts of filmmaking to me.  Last year’s winner, Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos for Dune, formed these worlds of oppressive and awe-inspiring scope that were breathtaking on screen—unless you watched Dune on your laptop, then you should go to jail.

  1. Babylon
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front
  3. The Fabelmans
  4. Elvis
  5. Avatar: The Way of Water

Even just the opening 20 minutes alone in the raucous party in the mansion on a hill that is clearly a nod to the Hearst Castle should put Babylon clear of the competition.  But I would be remise if I didn’t mention the Christian Goldbeck and Ernestine Hipper replicate the hell of trench warfare onto the screen in All Quiet on the Western Front.  Across the board it is a strong collection of nominees.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Babylon (-220)
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water (+850)
  3. Elvis (+340)
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front (+1000)
  5. The Fabelmans (+3400)
Best Bet:

Babylon (-220)

Taking home the BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Satellite, Hollywood Critics, and Art Directors Guild awards for production design is about as good a sign as one can get.

Long Shot:

Avatar: The Way of Water (+850)

I would be surprised if Avatar manages to win anything else on the night besides visual effects but in the case of Avatar: The Way of Water it is impossible to tell where visual effects ends and production design begins, I would think it shouldn’t really be nominated for this category.  But seeing as it’s here, and Avatar in 2009 captured the award it’s not impossible the biggest movie of the year will pull two awards on the night.

Major Technical Awards

Probably for no real reason besides my own personal bias I think there should be a distinction between sound and film editing and the rest… cinematography to come later as well.


My annual half-hearted complaint about the combining of the sound mixing and sound editing awards in which I say, they are different things that deserved to be celebrated in different ways, but I understand for the sake of clarity this will make more sense to more people.  But I do think that making more interesting awards rather than fewer should be the Academy’s goal.

  1. The Batman
    Batman movies since the Christopher Nolan days have always sounded amazing, possibly due to them being action movies with a lot of elements of horror filmmaking in them.  The Batman makes similar use of sound as the previous two winners Sound of Metal and Dune contrasting moments of silence with the explosive moments. 
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front
    The scene that is most indicative of the film as a whole is when the boys are huddled in the bunker trying to wait out the shelling and the you’re stuck with them as a viewer with no vantage point to the outside and you’re hearing muffled explosions and sounds of war outside.  Before it all turns to hell as the shells rip through the top of the bunker sending everything to black and chaos before it all goes dead silent again.  All Quiet on the Western Front is a horrifying film, much of that down to the excellent work of the sound team.
  3. Top Gun: Maverick
    There is nothing all that special about the way the Top Gun: Maverick sounds but it fucking loud.  And there is something to be said for when you’re sitting in that theater, getting punched in the chest as those jets swerve through the valley.
  4. Elvis
    I’ve always found Baz Luhrmann’s maximalist approach to sound in his films exhausting.  But the layered editing of the shrieking crowd noise, Butler’s Elvis, and blasting music is technically impressive if not at all to my taste.  A lot of it is the same trick over and over again loud blasting music quickly filtered out with a melancholy Tom Hanks monologue over the top to jolt the audience from euphoria to moments of tension.  I think the cheapest one is the Robert Kennedy assassination scene, but that’s perhaps because by that point in the nearly three-hour runtime the trick had run its course.
  5. Avatar: The Way of Water
    Unclear why this movie got nominated for best sound.  Perhaps people were impressed by the underwater audio effects?  Because it certainly couldn’t have been the sound during the action set pieces, which just like the first Avatar movie which get muddled and lost in the blue swirling mess.  The Way of Water sounds better in its serene moments than its loud ones but at neither point is it particularly impressive.
Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Top Gun: Maverick (-400)
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (+360)
  3. Avatar: The Way of Water (+1800)
  4. The Batman (+4200)
  5. Elvis (+2300)
Best Bet:

Top Gun: Maverick (-400)

I think if more people in the US had seen All Quiet on the Western Front in theaters rather than at home we wouldn’t really be having this conversation.  But the fact of the matter is that most people didn’t see All Quiet at all and those that did, didn’t go to the theater to see it like they did with Maverick—sometimes two or three times as well.

Long Shot:

The Batman (+4200)

The Batman is getting burned by its release date here.  But if you trust in the long term memory of the Academy voters I think this is clearly the best edited and mixed movie of the bunch.

Film Editing

Well done film editing will dictate the audiences emotions during a scene.  Thelma Schoonmaker, maybe the best to ever do it, would build use uncomfortable long shots in Goodfellas to make the audience uneasy in the moments of suspense or danger and hectic cuts and edits during the chaotic third act to bring the audience into Henry Hill’s head as it’s all crumbling down around him.

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin
    Mikkel E. G. Nielsen is not afraid of the long take.  Maybe my favorite scene of the year is when Pádriac finally goes to confront Colm at his house after his self-mutilation.  It is a roller coaster of a scene where we’re sorry for Pádriac then enraged with him then we are given a brief moment of joy when it seems like Colm and Pádriac are reconnecting over his song.  Not a moment is wasted, every beat of silence and dialogue is perfectly wielded.  Culminating in shot of the closing door and the gardening sheers.
  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once
    Everything Every All at Once is a bit of a cheat code. It just gets to be so many different kinds of movies and can change its style so expertly between them.  Paul Rogers gets the most freedom in the multiple montages as we jump through different realities and then is when Rogers does his most visually complex work.
  3. Top Gun: Maverick
    Like the film itself Top Gun: Maverick’s editing is fast paced and unrelenting.  There is a reason that Eddie Hamilton has become Christopher McQuarrie’s editor on the final four Mission: Impossible movies.  When you want big exciting action edited there may be no one better than him right now.
  4. TÁR
    TÁR is an incredible film but I wouldn’t say the editing is anything special.  The film is so deliberately paced around its star Cate Blanchett that it’s hard to imagine a way it could find a way to express itself without losing the heart of this character study.
  5. Elvis
    What?!  Fuck off.  If you manage to make it through the nauseating opening 6 minutes of this movie and still think it’s a well editing film I don’t know what to tell you.
Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (-240)
  2. Top Gun: Maverick (+185)
  3. Elvis (+2900)
  4. The Banshees of Inisherin (+1900)
  5. TÁR (+3400)
Best Bet:

Everything Everywhere All at Once (-240)

Everything Everywhere All at Once momentum feels unstoppable, this seemed like Top Gun’s award to lose not even a month ago but as we get closer to the night the more it feels like we’re in for an Everything Everywhere landslide.

Long Shot:

Elvis (+2900)

It would be a cinematic travesty, but there is previous for this.  Bohemian Rhapsody took home this award in 2018.

Supporting Acting Awards

We’ve officially reached the awards that the general public will care about.  Acting is the easiest element of filmmaking to understand critically, good acting is usually evident and bad acting is impossible to miss.  And in a lot of ways it is the most important part of film, if you have nothing else but a group of good actors and functional camera, you have a chance of stumbling your way into a good movie.

Supporting Actor

Probably the most understated collection of supporting actor performances we’ve seen in a while.  In years past this award usually goes to someone that has stolen the film like Troy Kotsur in last year’s CODA, Mahershala Ali in Moonlight,or J. K. Simmons in 2014’s Whiplash.  Or you’ll get wins from the second lead in two-handers like Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Mahershala Ali in Green Book.

  1. Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin as Dominic Kearney
    This may just be the best performance of the year.  I think Keoghan has about three scenes in all of The Banshees of Inisherin but every second burns off the screen.  Culminating in one of the most tragic ends to a character this year.  Barry Keoghan’s performance is the part of Banshees that sticks with the viewer the longest after leaving the theater.
  2. Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin as Colm Doherty
    It’s not fair to say Gleeson is overshadowed in Banshees because he is excellent and just as it was in In Bruges is a perfect scene partner for Colin Farrell but he is the third, if not fourth best performance in the film.  Much of that is by design as we’re seeing the slow deterioration of Colm before us.
  3. Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway as James Aucoin
    A rookie mistake by Brian in this one, we’ve all done it though.  Don’t fall in love with the hot lesbian.  It only leads to heartbreak.
    Henry has always been such an incredibly warm and subtle performer, all the elements of his performance as Alfred that are so exemplary in Atlanta shine through in Causeway.  And he and Jennifer Lawrence has beautiful onscreen chemistry and together they elevate what is a mostly pedestrian film with stellar acting.
  4. Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Waymond Wang
    We are all so happy for Ke Huy Quan.  His character in the theater timeline is far and away the best of his career and his scene with Michele Yeoh in the alley way is the best moment of the film.
  5. Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans as Boris Schildkraut
    I mean… I guess Judd Hirsch is fine in The Fabelmans?
Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Ke Huy Quan (-2000)
  2. Barry Keoghan (+1400)
  3. Brendan Gleeson (+1800)
  4. Brian Tyree Henry (+4200)
  5. Judd Hirsch (+3400)
Best Bet:

Ke Huy Quan (-2000)

With the Banshees lads splitting the vote, the ever-expanding cult of Everything Everywhere All at Once, and the fact that people have definitely not actually seen Causeway it’s hard to see Quan not taking this home.

Oh, also he’s won every single supporting actor award outside of the BAFTAs.

Long Shot:

Barry Keoghan (+1400)

The only person with even a chance is Keoghan, but he’s unlikely to see much joy stateside.

Supporting Actress

This is certainly a much more wide-open race than its supporting actor counterpart and likely the hardest to call of the four acting categories.

  1. Hong Chau – The Whale as Liz
    I’ve been very publicly on the record that I believe Hong Chau to be one of the best actors working right now period.  And her performance in The Whale is a testament to that fact, Brendan Fraser—rightfully so—has taken most of the spotlight in the subsequent months since the film’s release, but Chau is just as good if not better than Fraser in an underappreciated role.
  2. Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin as Siobhán Súilleabháin
    Had Condon gotten a little bit more screen time I could see her having taken the top spot, she is so fantastic in her scenes with Farrell, managing to execute humor and heart in equal measures.  Banshees is fully to the brim with amazing acting which is why Condon has flown under the radar this award season but her performance is as integral to the ethos of that film as any of the three other major roles.
  3. Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as Queen Ramonda
    Angela Bassett is easily the best part of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a movie and a character that had the impossible task of dealing with real life grief on screen. Bassett is all poise and gritted teeth throughout the film; it is sad to see her leave the MCU but what an astounding way to make her exit.
  4. Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Joy Wang / Jobu Tupaki
    Hsu has one of the louder flashier roles in Everything Everywhere, her entrance as Jobu Tupaki is one of the lasting visuals of the film.  And she chews the scenery with the best of them. And as Joy Wang manages to stick the emotional landing in the third act of the mother-daughter storyline.
  5. Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Deirdre Beaubeirdre
    As much as I enjoy Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere it does feel like these two are nominated more because people loved this movie rather than these two performances.  Aimee Lou Wood in Living, Dolly de Leon in Triangle of Sadness, and Carey Mulligan in She Said would have been much more deserving nominees—to name a few.
Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Angela Bassett (+145)
  2. Jamie Lee Curtis (+120)
  3. Kerry Condon (+185)
  4. Stephanie Hsu (+3400)
  5. Hong Chau (+3400)
Best Bet:

Angela Bassett (+145)

Factoring in Angela Bassett’s name recognition and that Curtis and Hsu are likely to split some votes, coupled with the fact there will be no other black winners on the night in major categories, Bassett should have a very slight edge here.

Long Shot:

Stephanie Hsu (+3400)

Don’t bet against Everything Everywhere All at Once’s big night.  And while Vegas seems to think Curtis’s name will carry more weight in the head-to-head between the two nominees, Hsu’s performance is better and the Academy voters have trended younger and more diverse in recent years, which could give Hsu an edge.

Major Awards

We are getting to the business end.  These are the big awards, they carry the most prestige, and are the first lines in people’s bios for the rest of their career.

International Feature Film

I went back and forth deciding whether to put this award in the major or minor section.

I love the international films, especially in recent years it feels like they continue to more and more interesting things and often things we’re not seeing in American and British cinema.  This year I watched all the films on the shortlist and many of the country submissions that didn’t make the cut.  But is my obsession clouding my judgement here?

Yeah, probably, but fuck it.


1. All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

You have heard plenty about All Quiet on the Western Front already from me, and you will hear more.  If you have yet to watch this movie; you’re doing yourself a disservice.

2. Close (Belgium)

An absolutely brutal film.  The story of love and loss and the harsh realities of the loss of childhood innocence.  In less deft hands than Lukas Dhont, Close would be manipulative and cheap but Dhont’s instinct not to give the audience what they crave makes the film emotionally rich and true to life.

3. Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)

A historical court room drama executed to perfection. Argentina, 1985 leverages the excellent performances of its cast, led by Ricardo Darín to craft and stirring and captivating true story of one of the most important court cases in modern history.

4. The Quiet Girl (Ireland)

A daringly stripped back portrait of the power of the smallest gestures.  Writer-director Colm Bairead’s debut, The Quiet Girl, is as beautifully rendered as it is emotionally wrenching.

5. EO (Poland)

Jerzy Skolimowski’s cinematic parableworks better as a collection of ideas than a movie.  It is a film student’s dream, pulling from classic French tragedy Au Hasard Balthazar and taking influence from masters of the form such as Fellini and Jean Cocteau.  I find I am more fascinated by EO in theory than in practice and an ending that is both unearned and abrupt undercuts a lot of good work the movie did to that point.
It is an undeniable film, EO will stick in your head after seeing it, be that for better or worse, it is an effecting and technically proficient film.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. All Quiet on the Western Front (-3500)
  2. Argentina, 1985 (+1000)
  3. Close (+1300)
  4. The Quiet Girl (+1100)
  5. EO (+2500)
Best Bet:

All Quiet on the Western Front (-3500)

The second sure thing of the night. No film has ever been nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Picture and not won Best International Feature Film.  Which feels like a statistic so obvious it’s not even worth typing out but there you are.

Long Shot:

Argentina, 1985 (+1000)

Argentina, 1985 at least has the might of Amazon behind it, it won’t matter in this case but that is something going for it.


Perhaps should have been in the “Major Technical Award” section but I make the rules and I simply was not going to do that.  As Jean-Luc Godard said, “photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.”  Cinematography is what makes film what it is.


1. All Quiet on the Western Front – James Friend

The camera is an audience avatar for much of All Quiet on the Western Front.  Friend refuses to give the viewer space as he pulls you closer and closer into the horrors of war.  Which means by the time he finally lets you go as he pans back over the beautiful wintery French countryside the sigh relief is audible. 

2. TÁR – Florian Hoffmeister

Hoffmeister’s camera work in Tár is not as tactile as All Quiet but his use empty space in the frame and the moving of the camera as the film collapses in around Lydia is perfectly executed, leading up the haunting final shot of the film as you realize you’ve watched someone’s complete self-destruction.

3. Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths – Darius Khondji

Khondji is frustratingly doing some of his best work in a film that is letting him down at every chance it gets.  Bardo is flawed in so many ways but Khondji’s ever-moving camera and beautiful use of color breaths as much life as possible into a surprisingly flat film from otherwise legendary writer-director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

4. Empire of Light – Roger Deakins

One of the quietest films in Deakins illustrious filmography, there is no one better at using light and the lack thereof than Deakins and Empire of Light is one of the best examples of just that in the last few years.

5. Elvis – Mandy Walker

Fittingly boisterous, the cinematography in Elvis is incessant; the camera seems to have the same vice grip on its beautiful leading man as his screaming fans.  Constant pans and spins and tilts; leaping between close ups and wide shots, the effect of which is amplified by the films chaotic editing leave the viewer feeling like you’re being forced to dance along with the unrelenting score.  At points it is effective, Walker shines in the Little Richard scene but other times it feels like the films refusal to sit still is a failed attempt at misdirection.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. All Quiet on the Western Front (-430)
  2. Elvis (+340)
  3. Tár (+2300)
  4. Empire of Light (+1300)
  5. Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (+3400)
Best Bet:

All Quiet on the Western Front (-430)

I continue to force myself to hope that Elvis will not win any award, but it does feel like Walker’s flashy cinematography has a good chance of home the prize ahead of far more deserving films.  But similar recent winners 1917 and The Revenant instill hope.

Long Shot:

Elvis (+340)

Hardly long odds considering but despite the legendary names in the nomination list you’re very unlikely to see anyone besides Elvis or All Quiet take this award home.

The Big Five

Winning all three of the big five; the most coveted achievement in film, likely to not be seen again any time soon and impossible this year.  When a film wins best picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay.  To date, 43 films have been nominated for all five; only three have ever done it: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Adapted Screenplay

The first of our major awards and the hardest to call this year.  Due to a mostly solid group of nominees and no runaway favorite, it does feel as if we’re going into tonight with five potential winners on the board.


1. All Quiet on the Western Front – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell

An anti-war film for the ages, only slightly let down by how unrelentingly bleak the ending is, All Quiet on the Western Front is as close to a perfect war script we’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan.

2. Living – Kazuo Ishiguro

Quite a close adaptation of the Kurosawa classic, Ishiguro modernizes the pacing script and breadth of the supporting characters enough to justify touching a master work like Ikiru.

3. Women Talking – Sarah Polley

Films of quiet conversations in closed rooms take the utmost skill when crafting a screenplay.  Polley doesn’t quite have a 12 Angry Men on her hands but it’s undeniably something special ultimately elevated by a stellar cast.

4. Top Gun: Maverick –Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie

I’m not entirely sure what the plot of Top Gun: Maverick even was, unnamed enemy in an unnamed conflict.  But the film sings, not a beat is wasted, and even manages to find time for quite moments like the excellently written scene between Cruise and Kilmer.

5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson has done it again; in that it’s kind of the same thing he keeps doing, subverting a well-trodden genre.  It is a strange whodunit that begins to drag after the murder happens but the choice to do the entire third act in sequences of flashback is too cute by a half and squanders ad charismatic cast and a compelling first hour.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Women Talking (-250)
  2. Top Gun: Maverick (+2800)
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front (+180)
  4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (+2300)
  5. Living (+3400)
Best Bet:

Women Talking (-250)

If it wasn’t for the fact that a foreign language film has never won adapted screenplay and only one foreign language film, Parasite¸ has ever won a screenplay award at all I would be far more confident that All Quiet on the Western Front would win here but that being considered the path is clearer for Women Talking and Polley to take it.

Long Shot:

Top Gun: Maverick (+2800)

The odds are too good to pass up, you can’t overestimate how much people in the movie business in particular loved Top Gun: Maverick.

Original Screenplay

It’s felt in recent years that the screenplay award has been the consolation prize for whoever doesn’t take home Best Picture or Director which seems unfair, one to screenwriters, but also the exceptional care and attention that goes in to crafting these scripts.  In this collection of nominees we have three genuine masterpieces of film writing, if they end up taking home the award as a “consolation” they will be more than deserving winners.


1. TÁR – Todd Field

A timely and masterfully executed character study about a women’s rapid self-destruction.  Todd Field’s grasp of pacing and his use of biting humor and quick dialogue gives Blanchett all the room she needs to play to execute this modern fable to perfection.  Not since Birdman has there been a more effecting and human story about a character that seems so much larger than life.

2. The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh

It just has no right to be as funny as it is with how dark and somber the film is at its core.  McDonagh has long been one of the foremost authorities on black comedy but with The Banshees of Inisherin it feels like a culmination of everything he’s exhibited so well in the past.

3. Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund

Equally parts scathing indictment of capitalism and study of how far humanity will sink when pushed.  Östlund’s biting satire is a hilarious and at times unnerving look into who we really are, and what we’re truly capable of.

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Inarguably the most fun one could have had at the theaters this year, Everything Everywhere All at Once, is loose enough in its construct to allow for anything and the Daniels use that freedom perfectly vacillating between the absurd and the somber.  Everything Everywhere manages to have as much heart as it does entertainment.

5. The Fabelmans – Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner

A touching story about a son’s relationship with his father told through the lens of Spielberg’s love of film.  In anyone else’s hand The Fabelmans would be saccharin and stomach churning, but Spielberg has always been the master of the sentimental.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (-190)
  2. TÁR (+2300)
  3. The Banshees of Inisherin (+145)
  4. The Fabelmans (+2300)
  5. Triangle of Sadness (+3400)
Best Bet:

Everything Everywhere All at Once (-190)

It’s Everything Everywhere’s world, we’re just living in it.

Long Shot:

TÁR (+2300)

This is mostly born of the fact that I think Tár, probably the year’s best film, will get shut out at the rest of the Oscars.  Which feels crazy to say now but I think we’re looking at a “consolation” screenplay award.


I have often bemoaned the lack of interesting roles for women in film, it doesn’t take a lot of scrolling through the Oscar archives until you come across some truly dour years for lead actress.  This is not one of those years, five rich parts—not all contained in great movies, but that’s okay.


1. Cate Blanchett – Tár as Lydia Tár

My favorite lead performance of the year, male or female, without question.  Blanchett is her voracious best as Lydia Tár, using every inch of screen and every ounce of gravitas to take over the film.  This makes her precipitous fall all the more harrowing to watch.  The final act in the Philippines where Tár only has a small piece of self left is Blanchett’s best—working, trickling through shadows of the otherworldly character we knew in the first act.

2. Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie as Leslie Rowlands

Ignoring entirely the controversy surrounding the surprise nomination, Riseborough’s performance as Leslie Rowlands is magnificent.  Rowlands is a real actor’s part, it allowed Riseborough the opportunity to display the gamut of emotions and she capitalizes exceptionally.

3. Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman

Williams, as usual, is far and away the best part of The Fabelmans.  Perhaps is the movie had just been her dancing by the fire for two and a half hours I would have enjoyed it far more.  Williams breathes life into the character that pops her off the screen in a way that the rest of the cast never quite seems to manage and in part that appears to the intention of the film.

4. Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once as Evelyn Quan Wang

Yeoh’s performance is equally as funny as it is stirring, she executes the dry wit of the first act deftly and sticks the landing beautifully on the poignant closing tone.  It is probably the best performance of Yeoh’s career and hopefully will allow her more opportunities to portray similarly layered characters.

5. Ana de Armas – Blonde as Norma Jeane Mortensen / Marilyn Monroe

Ana de Armas is good as Marilyn Monroe, unfortunately that doesn’t really matter because Blonde is too bad a film to let her succeed, it’s so mired in its own shit that it drags de Armas down with it.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Michelle Yeoh (-210)
  2. Cate Blanchett (+145)
  3. Michelle Williams (+4200)
  4. Ana de Armas (+8000)
  5. Andrea Riseborough (+3400)
Best Bet:

Michelle Yeoh (-210)

I can’t honestly say I know how we got here; in October Blanchett was a sure thing, in January she was a sure thing.  And now it really feels like she’s all but lost it.

Long Shot:

Cate Blanchett (+145)

This is a two person race and barely that, putting your money anywhere besides Yeoh or Blanchett would be like buying NFTs in 2023.


Listen to me.

Are you listening?

If Austin Butler fucking wins this award I’m rioting, solo—if need be, just me on the streets of DC kicking over trash cans and breaking windows.  It will simply not stand.


1. Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin as Pádraic Súilleabháin

Farrell is the fulcrum of this movie, he is such an astounding scene partner for his for main counterparts and the supporting cast.  Pádraic Súilleabháin is a rare leading performance that is more reserved than anyone else in the film.  But Farrell plays the simmering sadness and rage buried down deep perfectly so in the brief moments where we see them poke through Farrell really takes over the screen.

2. Bill Nighy – Living as Mr. Rodney Williams

I loved this performance so much, it’s my favorite kind of acting.  Stillness is the hardest thing to capture well on screen.  And Nighy is so beautifully stoic as Mr. Rodney Williams.  A lesser actor would overplay the tragedy of the role but Nighy knows the beautiful of Mr. Williams and of Living is in the joy found in the quiet moments.

3. Brendan Fraser – The Whale as Charlie

A harrowing performance that I don’t even know if the biggest Brendan Fraser fans knew he had in him.  At times The Whale is too self-wallowing for its own good but with the material he is given as Charlie, Fraser finds something special on the page.

4. Paul Mescal – Aftersun as Calum Paterson

Everything that Mescal is doing in Aftersun is on the edges and much of that is true for the film itself.  Aftersun gives its viewers enough, but just barely, and Mescal’s minimalist performance fits perfectly.

5. Austin Butler – Elvis as Elvis Presley

Listen to me.  I will fucking riot in the street.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Brendan Fraser (-170)
  2. Austin Butler (+130)
  3. Colin Farrell (+1100)
  4. Bill Nighy (+8000)
  5. Paul Mescal (+4100)
Best Bet:

Brendan Fraser (-170)

A fitting conclusion to what has been a well-deserved comeback tour.

Long Shot:

Austin Butler (+130)

Despite the fact that there is little to anything of interest in this movie, and Butler’s performance is more about his ability to mimic recordings of Elvis Presley than to find anything of interest to extract from this character.  The Academy loves to give people awards for playing real people; it is a ridiculous practice but it is undeniable.  Of the last ten best actor winners, seven were playing real life people, four of which we have video recordings of while they were alive.  People love when you can impersonate someone they can recognize.


The pinnacle of the individual awards, Best Director is an acknowledgment that you have facilitated—like a conductor, you have engineered and planned each piece of the film from every shot to ever sound to every blade of grass and have crafted meticulously an exceptional piece of cinema.


1. Todd Field – Tár

For all the reasons I’ve espoused throughout, Tár is a unique and outstanding character study that is a big swing that lands a hard punch.

2. Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin

Set on the exquisitely beautiful backdrop of scenic Ireland.  McDonagh crafts a deceptively simple story about the end of a friendship that is backed to the brim with ideas.

3. Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans

While Spielberg the screenwriter let’s down Spielberg the director there is no denying that despite the failings of the material there is no one maybe in the history of film able to make a movie so technically sound and emotionally resonant.

4. Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness

A parable in three acts, Triangles of Sadness, has far more to say than its on-the-nose satirical style would suggest, Östlund is asking questions of the audience that perhaps he doesn’t even have himself but the result is a complex, thought-provoking, and hilarious film that requires revisiting.

5. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once

A juggling act and a tight rope walk all at the same time.  Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s most ambitious film today is both interdimensional and timeless and perfectly contained in the small back room of a family’s laundromat.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Steven Spielberg (+850)
  2. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (-1800)
  3. Todd Field (+2900)
  4. Martin McDonagh (+3500)
  5. Ruben Östlund (+6500)
Best Bet:

Steven Spielberg (+850)

I still find it hard to imagine a world in which the Everything Everywhere All at Once wins all four of the big five awards for which it’s eligible.  Maybe I’m being naïve, especially because this would be a pretty weak film for which to take home a Best Director award, even for a legend such as Spielberg. 

Long Shot:

Todd Field (+2900)

It has felt ever more unlikely as the days have passed but if voters are hesitant to give Everything Everywhere all the plaudits and are as dubious of The Fabelmans as they probably should be, Field is the likeliest beneficiary.


And now for the big one, the year’s best film!  Ignore the fact that it’s almost never the actual best movie of the year that wins this award, but it’s nice to pretend for a big that it might be.


1. The Banshees of Inisherin

I have struggled for months, since putting together my year-end lists in December, about which was my number one movie: Tár or The Banshees of Inisherin.  They’re such different films in many ways and in a lot of ways equally exemplary.  And you ask me tomorrow it may be flipped around, but on the power of the ensemble Banshees takes it by a hair.  Two excellently written and directed films with gripping narratives the slow burn of which can catch you by surprise.
Banshees is a beautifully melancholy movie that makes perfect use of it’s gorgeous vistas and exceptional performances.  Capable of bringing you to tears one moment and uproarious laughter the next, McDonagh has perfected his craft.

2. TÁR

I am preemptively sad for Tár’s sure to be disappointing night.  Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised but I fear that despite the quality of the film in totality the bleakness of the final act might be Tár’s ultimate undoing.

3. Triangle of Sadness

It’s difficult to craft a biting satire that is as insightful and charming as Triangles of Sadness.  Too often similar films will fall at the last hurdle because they are too broad or too ham-fisted.  Ruben Östlund manages to walk right up to the line in all directions and never quite crosses over it leaving the viewer with a film that feels obvious on the surface but has many layers and a final image that one won’t soon forget.

4. All Quiet on the Western Front

As harrowing a viewing as you’ll likely get with a modern war film, All Quiet on the Western Front, pulls no punches which allows for an honest and poignant film but an end that feels needlessly dark even what the viewer has experienced to this point undercuts the success of the film, but only slightly.

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

They don’t really make movies like this. But maybe now they will.  Funny, heartwarming, and lively, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the perfect film for all movie goers.  It is only an overwrought final act and a few bits that long run their course before the film abandons them that put it a tier below the elite in this category.

6. Women Talking

An exceptional script and ensemble let down by the film’s technical aspects and directing.  Women Talking is a flawed piece of art but a perfect document of our time, capturing a conversation that has happened behind a million doors before and will resonate with viewers long after the credits roll.

7. Top Gun: Maverick

It is possible a no more efficient adrenalin delivery system exists on planet earth than the test run scene from Maverick.  Top Gun 2 is everything Tom Cruise is looking to make now in action movies, pure spectacle and event.  Something you have no choice but to see on the big screen in a packed auditorium.

8. The Fabelmans

The Fabelmans is as much a love letter to family as it is to film and at times can be joyously successful in both. While beautifully made and acted, Spielberg’s most recent film is let down by its weak script and poor pacing. 

9. Avatar: The Way of Water

A visual spectacle with little else to offer, Avatar: The Way of Water is an unsurprising successor to the original smash hit 14 years ago but offers little more, and will likely be forgotten in time—like the first.

10. Elvis

This movie sucks.

Likelihood of Winning:
  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (-1200)
  2. The Banshees of Inisherin (+1600)
  3. Top Gun: Maverick (+2900)
  4. TÁR (+6500)
  5. The Fabelmans (+4200)
  6. All Quiet on the Western Front (+1800)
  7. Triangle of Sadness (+10000)
  8. Avatar: The Way of Water (+10000)
  9. Women Talking (+10000)
  10. Elvis (+8000)
Best Bet:

Everything Everywhere All at Once (-1200)

It’s probably worth mentioning ranked choice voting here.  The Oscars operate on ranked choice voting which in theory is a good idea but what that tends to get people is the least bad thing rather than the best thing.  And you will get beneficiaries of ranked choice voting like CODA or Green Book which are unlikely to be many people’s number one movie but even less likely to be anyone’s last.

I wouldn’t be shocked (not that they’ll ever release the ballots because they’re cowards) if Top Gun or Banshees or Tár or even All Quiet on the Western Front get as many, if not more first choice votes than Everything Everywhere All at Once but it will be second or third or fourth on the vast majority of ballots.  It will be a run-away winner tonight because of its universal appeal.

I don’t want to make it sound like this is Crash or A Beautiful Mind or even The Artist; Everything Everywhere is a good movie, and probably a deserving winner when it’s all said and done.  Getting more movies like Everything Everywhere All at Once is certainly not a bad thing.

Long Shot:

Top Gun: Maverick (+2900)

Never underestimate how much people fucking love Tom Cruise and America.

Well, that’s all folks; it’s Oscars time.  Almost quite literally.  Enjoy the show!

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